Safaris, parades, dinosaurs . . . the culture of Cleveland

Cities are great to visit because they each have a different atmosphere. We set out to participate in the U2 Fan Celebration at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Instead we found so many opportunities to experience the local culture that we missed the celebration entirely!

Safaris, parades, dinosaurs . . . the culture of Cleveland

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

On our drive from Chicago to Cleveland we stopped at the African Safari Wildlife Park. It was quite an experience to drive through an area where various animals walked right up to the car to be feed and pet.

Almost all of Cleveland participates in the yearly Parade the Circle event. If they have not made floats and costumes with a local group to parade around University Circle, they have brought out their lawn chairs and blankets to watch the event. In addition to watching this creative parade, we were able to visit several of Cleveland’s main attractions at discounted rates. The kids were amazed at the armor collection in the Cleveland Art Museum while we impressed with the wonderful environment for the Ohio animals in the Wildlife Center at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

All four of us danced and sang our way through the world famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. We played with the interactive exhibits, watched video clips and saw stage costumes. For even more animals we spent Father’s Day at the Cleveland Zoo. There was a special dinosaur exhibit where we saw these magnificent creatures in a real environment.${QuickSuggestions} Don’t: Think that the only thing to do in Cleveland is go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have museums for every type of interest, ethnic neighborhoods with good food, and a beautiful lakefront.

Do: Visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s free year round for everyone. Even if you are not an art lover it gets you down to University Circle which may be the most beautiful place in the city. There is a huge lake in front with a beautiful park for you to walk through. Most of the museums in the city are in University Circle.

Do: Have at least one dinner in Cleveland’s Little Italy.

Don’t: Forget to look for coupons. You can find discounts of several activities, hotels and dinners at${BestWay} Getting There: If you do not live nearby, you can fly into Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. We drove from Chicago which was about a five hour trip.

Getting Around: Cleveland appeared to have good public transportation system with several buses available everywhere we went. We drove from place to place. Parking on the street was not usually available. Parking lots usually charged around $7 for the entire day or $5 for the evening.

Embassy Suites Downtown

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

Hotel Description: We chose the Embassy Suites because we were traveling as a family of two adults and two children. You always get complimentary cocktails and full cooked to order breakfast when staying at an Embassy Suites which is a big bonus. This hotel had a large indoor heated pool open from 8am until 9:30pm. There is library with plush leather couches adjacent to the bar which had an outdoor terrace where we enjoyed out complimentary cocktails while the kids ran around. The hotel is in an apartment building complex. The ground floor had everything from a grocery store to a pool hall. Room Service was available from their restaurant, but you could also run to the Subway or grocery store on the first floor. There was a separate breakfast room where the complimentary breakfast was served. You could choose to sit indoors or out. On the back of the key card they recommend the best times to have breakfast because it gets crowded on weekends after 9am.

Room Description: The hotel rooms have two rooms that include a private bedroom and separate living area with a queen-size sofa bed. This particular hotel has rooms that are converted apartments so they are very large. The colors of the room were an outdated blue, but with all the extra space we were quite happy. There was even a table with four chairs and an entire kitchen counter to spread out on. There were two closets and two dressers as well. These rooms also have microwaves and refrigerators which are handy when traveling with children.

Extras: Instead of getting the AAA discounted rate for $80 we went for the Rugrats Go Wild rate which was a promotion the Embassy Suites was doing throughout the summer of 2003 in conjunction with the launch of the Rugrats Go Wild movie. Included in rate each child received the Rugrats Go Wild! Trip Pack filled with 'Rugrats Go Wild!' themed, kid-friendly items. Included was a real 35mm camera, a roll of film, travel journal with stickers, telescope, scented markers and a paw print stamper.

Parking charges: Self parking $3.50-$9 per exit. Valet parking: $18 with in and out privileges.

Embassy Suites Cleveland - Downtown
1701 E 12TH ST
Cleveland, Ohio, 44114

Mama Santas

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

The atmosphere at Mama Santa’s is a good, old-fashioned pizza place. Don’t expect anything fancy when coming here, but you can expect some of the best Italian food around. We came here because it was in the heart of Cleveland’s Little Italy which everyone raves about. When I was researching places for dinner I was looking for places there were affordable, but where I could also experience some culture.

We took the kids and planned on ordering pizza. We didn’t want any of the appetizers on the list, so I asked the waitress to recommend a pasta which we could eat with our pizza. She recommended the cavatelli. She brought it to our table before the pizza and we all tasted some. The pasta is made fresh and is served with a spicy sauce. I wanted to order more pasta and let the others eat my share of the pizza, but we wanted to get back to the hotel, so the kids could swim. We asked the waitress to make our pizza order to go and we got that about 15 minutes later. When we finally ate the pizza, it was a bit cold, but it was still good. They sliced the pizza pieces in large triangles. I prefer my pizza sliced in squares, but that’s the only complaint I had. It was under $24 for one large, three-topping pizza, an order of cavatelli, and a Rolling Rock. I definitely recommend the pasta over the pizza.

Mama Santa Restaurant & Pizzeria
12305 Mayfield Road
Cleveland, Ohio, 44106
(216) 231-9567

African Safari Wildlife Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

On our five hour drive from Chicago to Cleveland we stopped at the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, Ohio. This is the only place in the Midwest where you can get so close to a variety of animals such as llama, deer, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. There are two sections to the park: a drive through and a walk through.

The park suggests you do the drive through section first. You can go back through it as many times as you want. Included in the price is one cup of feed. They call it a bucket, but it is a very large plastic glass the size of a souvenir cup. We bought two extra cups for $2 each and headed in.

As soon as the gates started opening the animals flocked to the car. They are a bit aggressive because they know they will be fed. We had reindeer, elk, llamas, alpacas, and deer all sticking their heads in our window. We got to another gate where they gave us an option to buy carrots to feed the animals. It cost $3 for a one pound bag and $5 for a two pound bag. We bought a two pound bag. The animals were smaller in this section and we were more comfortable feeding the smaller deer. We drove on and saw about five large reindeer soaking in some muddy water. We stopped to take pictures of them and some goats resting up on a patch of boulders. It is an amazing experience to be able to interact so closely with animals. We were a bit nervous at first when the llamas and reindeer had their heads in the car with us, but we got used to it after a few minutes. Driving further down the road we drove through a heard of buffalo and got to see some of their babies as well as a bison. The next section we drove through had more exotic animals which were behind fences. We saw ostriches, zebras (including the rare white zebras), bongos, giraffes, and some animals which we did not know.

In the walk through section of the park you can visit with several smaller animals, mostly in cages. Peacocks roamed around the grounds. Pig races are held daily as well as camel and pony rides which are all included in the base price. We saw several types of monkeys including Colobus monkeys, baboons, and orangutans. Also at the park were flamingos, goats, camels, alpaca, a serval, lynx, and several birds. We even saw two warthogs sleeping the day away.

The gift shop sells T-shirts, several little toys, and stuffed animals of all sorts of wildlife. We found a "surprise bag" for a boy and a girl that were $5 each. It was a brown paper lunch bag filled with all sorts of little trinkets. They got stickers, gooey animals, and all sorts of little toys.

African Safari Wildlife Park
267 Lightner Road
Cleveland, Ohio

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum is truly unique. From the front, the building is shaped as a glass pyramid. When you enter you see several large items that are hanging from the walls and ceiling of the lobby. The gift shop has several choices for souvenirs and takes up about half of the first floor. Pictures are allowed in lobby only and you can not take your camera into the museum. There is a free coat and camera check where you can leave you belongings while you enjoy the museum. Go down the escalator to buy your tickets and check your camera.

When you enter the museum you can watch two short films to prepare you for your visit. The first is called "Mystery Train" which was taken from an Elvis Presly song. It takes you back in time and shows some of the founders of Rock and Roll. You see the differences in the music of American black people and white people prior to the 1950s including gospel, blues, country and folk. The second film is called "Kick Out the Jams" and features artists from the 1960s through today. "Kick out the Jams" had some language that was a little too mature for preteens. After you watch the films you are ready to get started with viewing the memorabilia. Visit the Rock of Ages gallery and listen to songs of artists to influenced rock and roll. I was smitten by a few songs of a gospel singer named Mahalia Jackson. This goes to show that all music lovers will probably find something new for them at this museum.

Around the corner we found two interactive exhibits where we spent a good amount of time. The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll has songs from the 20s through 90s which you can listen to on headphones with another person. The Beat Goes On is an incredible exhibit which lets you listen to songs by certain artists, while displaying links on the kiosk to bands and songs who influenced the group you are listening too.

Much of the rest of the first floor is dedicated to costumes worn by performers from various genres. You can see outfits worn by pop idols like Brittany Spears and Debbie Gibson, costumes worn by David Bowie in his music videos and even Jim Morrison’s boy scouts shirt. The Beatles and Jim Morrison are featured and you can read postcards John Lennon wrote to his son Jullian and see Jim Morrison’s report cards. Jimi Hendrix even has a theater as part of his exhibit. When you enter the tie-dye painted room the black light turns all the white you are wearing into a glowing purple. Have a seat and see Jimi perform live. The audio and video were re-mastered and you are surrounded by the sound of his guitar as you watch him play with his teeth and set his instrument on fire. All this is only the first floor!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
1 Key Plaza
Cleveland, Ohio, 44114
+1 216 781 7625; +1

Cleveland Museum of Art

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

There are three floors in the museum featuring various works. We spent our time in the galleries on the second floor. Since we had limited time at the museum, we each picked a gallery to visit. I am a fan of European art from the 1400s through the 1800s and I picked the Baroque Gallery. Other galleries chosen were the Egypt Gallery and the Armor Gallery.

We found several Religious and Mythological pieces in the Baroque Gallery. I was delighted to find a wonderful piece from one of my favorite masters, Peter Paul Rubens. The artwork was entitled Diana and Her Nymphs Departing for the Hunt. The write up next to the piece explained how Diana was the goddess of Hunting as well as Virtue. Diana wore a cloth the looked to be made from tiger’s skin. An intricately painted satyr was attacking one of her nymphs, supposedly representing the nymphs virtue. I was also impressed with several paintings by Nicolas Poussin. While discussing one of his paintings entitled The Holy Family on the Steps, we explained the use of light in paintings to the children. In this particular painting the Holy Family’s clothing is painted in vivid colors while the rest of painting is painted with grey, darker hues. We were also introduced to several Dutch painters, such as Frans Hals, and Italian artists. There is a haunting painting of Samson and Delilah by Italian artist Gerrit van Honthorst.

The most impressive piece in the armor gallery is a full suit of armor for both a man and his horse. One tends to forget that the horses needed to be protected in battle as well. This piece sits in the middle of the gallery. It is decorated with etchings in the metal armor. The combined weight of the armor for both the man and his horse is about 115 pounds. This gallery also contains several suits of different types of armor. Even some armor made for a child. Several weapons including intricately decorated swords are also on display.

In the Egypt gallery we were drawn to the Coffin of Bakenmut. This is the elaborately decorated coffin has every inch of the surface covered religious scenes, protective spells, and magic symbols. The decoration on the inside of the coffin features two great Kings of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty. Near the top is Tuthmosis III, a strong military pharaoh, who lived 500 years before Bakenmut. The scene below features two back-to-back seated images of Amenhotep I, regarded as the patron of the Theban cemetery and worshiped as a local god there.

The museum grounds are beautiful and you should plan some time to walk around Circle Park in the back of the museum. There you will find a beautiful fountain and several statues. On a Saturday afternoon you will see several wedding parties waiting to get their pictures taken in this lovely location.

Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Blvd
Cleveland, Ohio, 44106
(216) 421-7340

Parade the Circle

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

Parade the Circle is an annual event held at University Circle. This parade encourages appreciation of the arts in Cleveland. Most of the museums sponsored booths and activities surrounding the parade route.

Children could make hats and instruments, feel animal pelts and get some ice cream. Parade participants are a mixture of school and community organizations. Free training workshops in parade skills are offered to group leaders a few months before the parade. This allows a wide range of participants to do their best in designing and preparing their parade exhibit. Participants ranged from people in wheel chairs dressed up like elephants to students on stilts to dance troops with steel drums. The theme of the Parade was "Springs among Stones" and each group was encouraged to make floats or wear costumes expressing this theme. Several ethnic dance groups paraded including African dancers and belly dancers. We saw dragons, skeletons, unicorns, medieval sprites, and even walking works or art. Some of the floats were huge skeletons, elephants and men. The parade emanated a small-town feel even though Cleveland is a large city.

Parade the Circle Celebration
East Blvd & Wade Oval
Cleveland, Ohio, 44106
+1 216 421 7340; +1

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

The basic museum offers exhibits exploring the natural world. The first exhibit we walked into was the Hall of Human Ecology which had several stuffed animals. The kids loved taking pictures of the animals since they could get close and take a good shot. We also saw the oldest watercraft ever found in North America which is a 3,600 year-old Ringler dugout boat. It was a hollowed large trunk of an oak tree which held three or four people. You could see the worn spots where the men sat in the boat.

The Wildlife Center & Woods Garden is like a mini-zoo attached to the museum. All the animals looked very healthy and comfortable in their spacious environments. It was a wonderful exhibit to walk through. You get to see the animals in their native environment and the exhibit is shaded by trees. My favorite was the two otters who swam around playing together. There was also a pair of foxes that seemed to be having some fun running around inspecting the gal who was in their area raking the ground. There are several benches where you can rest and sit back and watch the animals if you need a break. The bald eagle is very impressive and he has a huge nest built for him up in the tree.

We found the dinosaur exhibit, standard to almost all natural history museums, in the Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life. There were a few dinosaur skeletons we had not see before such as the Allosaurus which seemed like smaller version of a T-Rex.

The Wade Gallery of Gems and Jewelry has a unique collection of gemstones. One of the people we met told us that the man who donated the diamond collection used to carry around colored diamonds in his pockets at all times and then when he died he donated them to the museum. That had me curious to see the exhibit and indeed there were a variety of colored diamonds which I did not even know existed. There is also a sparkling exhibit of opals in all their various colors.

Outside the main entrance of the museum they have "Steggie" which is a life-sized Stegosaurus sculpture that all the kids like to climb on as if she were a jungle gym.

We only spent an hour and a half at the museum so we did not get to see it in its entirety. Also available is the Shafran Planetarium where you can watch a sky show of the night sky at this time of year. Tickets for the planetarium show were $3.00 additional to the cost of admission.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
1 Wade Oval Drive
Cleveland, Ohio, 44106
+1 216 231 4600

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 26, 2003

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is home to thousands of animals. The zoo is split into two main sections; the 168 acre zoo and the two indoor acres of the Rainforest. They offer a wide range of animal exhibits including Butterfly Magic, Lorikeet Aviary, Australian Adventure, African Savanna, Wolf Lodge, and even Dinosaurs! The four of us each chose one exhibit we wanted to see, but we ended up coving almost the entire zoo in the six hours we spent there.

This zoo offers several opportunities for its visitors to interact with the animals. At the seal exhibit we purchased fish to feed the seals. It cost $1 for two fish. The seals swam up on the side of their pool and called out to be fed when they saw a fish dangling for them. Animals of various breeds roam freely together in the African Savanna. Even though you are outside of the fences, you can walk through the path appearing as if you are on a true safari. Ostriches run right next to resting giraffes while birds fly overhead. We even saw a nest of ostrich eggs. In the Wolf Lodge you have to look closely, but you can see wolves resting in the foliage of their own forest. The Australian Adventure allows you to take a train ride through the animals. With the open sides of the train, you are right next to the wallaby hopping around their yard. You can purchase a cup of nectar for $1 and walk into the Lorikeet Aviary to feed parrots. Most of the birds fly over and stand on the fence or a branch, but some visitors were even trying to get the birds to sit on their arms as they fed them. Butterfly Magic is offered in the summer. You enter a hothouse filled with a wide variety of flowers and plants. Butterflies hatch from their cocoons at various times during the summer and flutter around inside. You can also see their cocoons and watch newly hatched butterflies before they find their way to a home in the trees.

Experience the jungle in the Rainforest. This amazing section of the zoo has over 600 animals (not including thousands of insects), and over 10,000 live flowers, trees and shrubs all native to tropical rainforests in Africa, Asia and South America. Wander through and see creatures you have never even heard of before. We saw porcupines that lived in trees, hissing cockroaches, exquisite monkeys, the clouded leopard, giant anteaters, sloths, fishing cats, and much more. Two animals that struck me were the Prevost squirrels and Francois’ langurs. The tri-colored fur of the Prevost squirrel has a black back and head, deep chestnut-red legs and belly, and those two colors are separated by a thick white stripe along the middle of his body. Francois’ langurs are inquisitive looking monkeys with a white stripe between the corners of their mouth and their ears.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
3900 Wildlife Way
Cleveland, Ohio, 44109
(216) 661-6500

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